Tonight… the best team in the Eastern Conference hosts the best of the West. And while the the Celtics have gone wire-to-wire as the top seed in the East, the West has been a merry-go-round of top seeds. The Lakers lost last night, and dropped 3 spots in the playoff standings. Utah was a top seed not too long ago… and now they’re fourth. The spread between the 1 through 8 seeds in the West (5.5 games) is the same as the spread between the Celtics and Pistons.
That means the Western Conference is better, top-to-bottom, than the East. But just because the West has more contenders… it does not mean those teams are better than the Celtics or Pistons.
For some reason… people seem to believe more good teams in one conference mean individual teams out West would be better than the teams in the East. But the fact that Golden State has a good record has no bearing on whether the Jazz can beat the Celtics or Pistons. The Nuggets being out of the playoffs out West while they could be a 4 seed in the East doesn’t really fix any of the matchup problems the Hornets might have against the Celtics.
And dropping the “they’re better because they play better competition” line doesn’t hold much water either. So what if the Lakers play a couple more games against Phoenix? Is that somehow supposed to get them more prepared to play Boston? These are NBA players here. As bad as the Knicks are… you still have to guard talented guys like Jamal Crawford when you play them. The Celtics and Pistons aren’t playing Gonzaga every night. They have to give the same effort and execute the same way… because even bad NBA teams have good NBA players… with NBA strength and NBA speed.
The best evidence comes from the Celtics 24-5 record against the West… better than any Western team’s record against the East (Detroit is 20-8 vs. the West). And a few of those 5 came with a rusty, post-injury KG trying to get back into form… so the record could be even better.
Are there more very good teams out West? Obviously. But that doesn’t give any individual teams any more of an advantage against the best teams in the NBA… which happen to play here in the East.
Herald: Shot at big turnaround | Pierce on plate for great 8 | Globe: Paul has Hornets buzzing | TrueHoop: Chris Paul & LeBron teammates? | Souza: Celtics have another shot at history | Patriot Ledger: Celtics show how West was won | Rondo ready for Paul | USA Today: Posey carves out role with Celtics | Fall River Herald News: Bill Russell on offensive at fundraiser | Pistons seal Central Division | Hilarious video of Andrew Bogut high-fiving…. no one